Third Reich Frauds
I have been doing considerable research into the matter of the purported, “Adolf Hitler Ring” that was allegedly sold by the Alexander Auctions people for, as they claim, $66.000 .
On April 4, 1982, the British “Telegraph Sunday Magazine” (and later in the American “Penthouse” magazine) an article appeared on what was then called “The Treasure Trove of the Decade.”
This dealt with the purported discovery by a certain “Sergeant Joseph” in the “water-logged” basement of the “Führerbau” on the Koenigsplatz in Munich of a glittering horde of Nazi relics.
This find consisted of, among other things, “A gold-plated, richly engraved 7.65 mm pistol presented to Hitler by one ‘Max Kehl’” and now insured for $375,000, “Hitler’s ‘swastika ring’ made for him by the “leading German jeweler K. Berthlold in platinum”: a “tiny portrait of Hitler’s mother” as well as one of his dog, ‘Blondi,” and “numerous” pieces of table silver made for Hitler by the firm of Krupp in Berndorf, and Hitler’s “personal gold wristwatch” with a day-date device. This last treasure, alas, was lost when “Sergeant Joseph” was washing his hands in a public lavatory in Philadelphia.
This entire glittering collection was sold to a Mr. Ray Bily from Nevada.
In 2013, another article appeared on September 5 in ‘Mail Online’ another British publication, on the subject of the ring itself. In this article, the ring was found ‘in Hitler’s Bavarian retreat’ but there is no mention of “Sergeant Joseph,” but now the ring is stated to be of gold-plated silver, not platinum.
Since provenance is most important in establishing the authenticity of a purportedly rare items, the first step here was to ascertain the background of “Sergeant Joseph.” Most dealers who concoct stories about “Veteran finds” make up names to suit themselves but they do not realize that the U.S. Army has all of its personnel records on file in Missouri.
In checking these, we discovered four “Sergeant Joseph” names. One had been in the Pacific Theater throughout the war and therefore was not the discoverer in Munich. The other had been an Army supply sergeant in Italy from 1944 until 1945 and was not in the running. The third was killed in August of 1944 at St Lo, France and the fourth was stationed in the United States in San Antonio as a cook at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center.
Could the British author have made an error? Could the finder of Precious Treasures in Munich have actually have been a Sergeant Joseph Grinder?
After all Joe the Grinder was quite well known in various circles at the time.
It is interesting to note that when Mr. Craig Gottlieb offered an object he called “The Adolf Hitler Desk Set” for auction in the same auction house, Alexander Auctions, that presented the “Hitler Ring,” it was stated to have been found by an American soldier in the water-logged cellar of the same Führerbau in Munich! The first Gottlieb report was that the soldier had been quartered in “Eva Brauns’s Munich house” and, discovering a secret tunnel in the cellar, crawled through it for three miles, to Hitler’s earlier office in downtown Munich where he found the desk set lying on the old desk, still intact.
This story was later changed to the soldier having been quartered in the “Braun Haus” that is only a few yards from the Führerbau but the secret tunnel was still in play. The only thing wrong with this scenario is that the Braun Haus had been bombed out during an earlier air raid and that quartering soldiers in it was impossible.
The ring had indeed been manufactured in Germany but was advertised in a period catalog as a “Führer” ring and at least eight were sold. A close-up picture of the Alexander Auction piece shows very bad craftsmanship, so bad that no jeweler or Party member would have dared to give it to Hitler. The tiny picture of his mother from the earlier article was copied from a Hoffman picture appearing in one of his illustrated Hitler books and the dog picture, never shown anywhere, showed a Belgian shephed dog that was black, not tan and black.
There are many collectors like Mr. Bily. They have a good deal of money, no knowledge or taste and are the delight of the dealers in such recently-manufactured glitterati as:
- The Grand Cross Papers
- The Sepp Dietrich Honor Sword
- The Goering Roman Sword
- Very bad copies of every German field marshal’s baton
- A dozen or so “genuine Junckers Grand Crosses”
- At least six “Stars for the Grand Cross”
- A plethora of fake Damascus Feldherrnhalle daggers and SS Honor daggers
- A Damascus Himmler letter opener
- Gold Mother’s medals with diamonds
- Guerrilla warfare badges in gold with diamonds
- German Crosses in gold with diamonds
- At least three PP Walther pistols, heavily engraved and purporting to be Hitler’s personal gun.
- Elaborate Knight’s Cross presentation papers for many famous German air aces, General officers, SS leading lights and U-Boat officers
- The Adolf Hitler Bearing Sword
- At least six Hitler uniform tunics, all the wrong size and with the wrong colorerd tunic buttons
- Hitler’s bunker couch
- Hitler’s red-painted telephone